If you are a Hotmail.com user, then you have probably heard that Microsoft will be closing the doors on Hotmail.com and moving all of its users over to the new Outlook.com sometime this summer. (Microsoft hasn't set a specific date.) Currently, you can make the switch on your own, but if you choose not do so between now and this summer, Microsoft has said that they will be automatically moving all remaining Hotmail.com users to Outlook.com.
Now I don't know about you, but I hate to have things automatically changed for me. I would rather do it myself. If you are like me and would rather make the move from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com yourself, you need to know that there are two ways that you can make the move. You can upgrade your existing account to Outlook.com or you can start fresh and create a new Outlook.com. The method that you use will depend on how attached you are to your Hotmail.com account.
I'll show you how to move from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com using both of these methods. As I do, I'll tell you what you need to know as you plan for, undertake, and move into an Outlook.com account.
Keep in mind that while the main focus of this transition is Hotmail.com, if you have a Live.com or even an MSN.com e-mail address, this change is for you as well. These accounts have become more significant since many available features in Windows 8 and Office 2013 require a Microsoft email account.
Before we get started, let's take a few moments to look a bit more closely at what it means to use one of the two methods. To begin with, it's important to understand that once you have selected and proceed with a method, you will not be able to change your mind and easily switch to the other method.
If you have a longstanding relationship with Hotmail.com and your @hotmail.com email address is associated to a lot of external accounts or services, such as SkyDrive or Windows 8, then you will want to upgrade your Hotmail.com account to Outlook.com. When you do, everything associated with your account will come with you.
This means that all your existing messages, your contacts, and your settings will be migrated from your existing account to your new one. And, you'll be able to keep your same email address and password. (In fact, Microsoft says that you can keep your @hotmail.com forever - even though Hotmail.com as an entity will cease to exist in the near future.) Everything will continue to work as it currently does, you'll just have the new user interface that is in Outlook.com.
Now, it may take a little while to get acquainted some of the new features, but you shouldn't really experience any problems creating, sending, and receiving email messages. Email addressed to you at your @hotmail.com address will arrive in your Outlook.com inbox and email sent from your Outlook.com account will still show your return address as @hotmail.com.
If after you upgrade, you decide that you want to have an @outlook.com email address, you can do so easily by setting up an alias. Once you set up an alias set up, email that you send will be from an @outlook.com email address and email addressed to you at your @outlook.com address will arrive in your Outlook.com inbox. And, you can still send and receive email using your @hotmail.com address.
If you rarely use your Hotmail.com account, you don't have it associated any external accounts or services, and it has just become a spam magnet that you want to do away with, then you will probably want to make a clean start at Outlook.com. When you do so, nothing will be migrated from your existing account. You will end up with a brand new account and you can just let your old Hotmail account fade away - after a period of complete inactivity, Microsoft will close the account.
However, if after you start fresh, you decide that you would still like to have access to your Hotmail.com account, you have the option of linking your new and old accounts together. When you do so, you can switch back and forth between them if and when you need. Keep in mind that linking your accounts together doesn't really combine them - you will have two separate accounts.
Now that you have a basic idea at how each method works, let take a closer look at the details.
UpgradingAt some point in time, you will log into your Hotmail.com account and see the message shown in Figure A. If at that point you are ready to perform the upgrade, just click the Upgrade to Outlook button. If you click the Maybe later button, you may not see this prompt again for a while.
If you are like most cautious folks out there, chances are that you clicked the Maybe later button. However, if you now want to upgrade your Hotmail.com account to Outlook.com, you can do so quite easily.
Chances are that you've recently seen this message when you've logged in to your Hotmail.com account.To begin, make sure that you are logged out of your Hotmail.com account. Then, point your browser to Outlook.com. When you arrive, you'll see the Outlook.com Login page. Now, just log in using your @hotmail.com email address and password, as shown in Figure B.
To begin the upgrade, you'll log in to Outlook.com using your @hotmail.com email address and password.As soon as you log in, the entire upgrade will take place immediately and you'll see a Welcome message like the one shown in Figure C. Take a few moments to look over the information, check out the tips, and watch the video tour. If you are ready to begin using Outlook.com, you can just click the Continue to inbox button.
The actual upgrade takes only seconds to occur and you'll see a Welcome message.
Once you have made the upgrade, you'll find that all of your email messages and contacts are just as they were in Hotmail.com. And, since you have the same @hotmail.com email address and password, you can begin using the new tools in Outlook.com to send, receive, and manage your email.
When you log out, you'll find that you can log back in at Hotmail.com or at Outlook.com. Either way, you'll end up in the new Outlook.com interface. Eventually, Hotmail.com will disappear and typing that address will simply redirect you to Outlook.com.
Setting up an Alias
If after you have made the upgrade, you decide that you would like to have an @outlook.com email address, you can set up an alias. As I mentioned earlier, when you set up an alias, you can send and receive email using an @outlook.com address and well as your @hotmail.com address.
Keep in mind that there are some limitations to using an alias. First, you can only create five aliases a year. Second, you cannot log in to your account using an alias - you will still have to use your @hotmail.com address. Third, you can only send email from an alias from within the Outlook.com web-based interface, which means that if you have a Windows Phone and use it to send email, you can only send email from your @hotmail.com address. (Microsoft has said that this may change in the future.)To begin the process of setting up an alias, you'll click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the window and when the menu appears, select the More mail settings command, as shown in Figure D.
To set up an alias, you'll click the Options icon and select the More mail settings command.When you see the Options screen, select the Create an Outlook alias command, as shown in Figure E. While you have the Options screen open, take note that this is the place where you can make changes to customize how your new Outlook.com account works.
Select the Create an Outlook alias command on the Options screen.When you see the Create an email alias screen, you'll need to type in a unique name in the Email address text box, as shown in Figure F. You'll then click the Create an alias button. If the name that you type isn't unique, you see an error message and will be prompted to try again.
Type a unique name in the Email address text box and click the Create an alias button.You'll then return to the Inbox and will see a message informing you that your alias is being created and that you can choose to have email sent to your alias put in a separate folder rather than directly in the Inbox, as shown in Figure G. Of course, you can opt to have all your email put in the Inbox. I just opted for the default folder name, which is the new email address. Keep in mind that this step simply creates a folder and a rule and that if you later want to change it, you can do so by editing the rule or renaming the folder.
When you return to the Inbox, you can set up a folder to store email sent to your alias.In a few moments, you will receive a new message informing that your alias is ready to use, as shown in Figure H. Now, based on the information previously displayed, I had expected that this message would have been sent to my new @outlook.com email address and would appear in my new folder. However, it came to my @hotmail.com address. Not a big deal, but not what I was expecting.
You'll receive an email message informing that your alias is ready to use.Once you have set up your alias, using it requires a quick, but additional step. When you click the New button to create a new message, you'll see that your @hotmail.com address is the default. You have to click the drop down arrow next to your email address and then select your @outlook.com email address from the menu, as shown in Figure I.
When you create a new message, click the drop down arrow next to your email address and select your @outlook.com email address from the menu.
Starting freshIf you decide that you want to make a clean start, make sure that you are logged out of your Hotmail.com account and then point your browser to Outlook.com. When you arrive, don't sign in with your @hotmail.com address; instead click the Sign up Now link towards the bottom of the screen, as shown in Figure J.
To start with a fresh Outlook.com account, click the Sign up Now link.When you do so, you'll need to fill out the Microsoft account form, shown in Figure K, as if you were a new user. Along the way, you'll establish your new @outlook.com email address.
When you start fresh with Outlook.com, you'll need to fill out the Microsoft account form as if you were a new user.
Now, you may notice that the information at the top of the screen mentions that you can rename your account; however, that is no longer the case. During the Outlook.com preview, you could rename your account, but that feature is no longer available on the Options screen.
When you complete the form and click the: "I accept" button at the bottom of the page, you'll be taken to a brand new Outlook.com inbox and can begin fresh.
If after you've created a new Outlook.com account, you decide that you would still like to have access to your Hotmail.com account, you can easily link it to your new account. As I mentioned earlier, when you link your accounts together, it doesn't really combine them - you will have two separate accounts. However, you can switch back and forth between them easily from within your new account.To begin the process of linking your accounts, you'll click the picture icon in the upper right corner of the window and when the menu appears, you'll select the Account settings command, as shown in Figure L.
When you click the picture icon, you'll see a menu and will select the Account settings command.When you see the Microsoft account screen, select Permissions and then click the Manage linked accounts command, as shown in Figure M.
Click the Manage linked accounts command.In a moment, you'll see the Manage linked accounts page and will click the Add linked account command, as shown in Figure N.
Click the Add linked account command.You'll then be prompted to enter your password to verify your account information. Then, type the email address and password of the account that you want to link to, as shown in Figure O. When you finish, just click the Link button at the bottom of the page. You'll then be returned to the Manage linked accounts page and will be notified that your two accounts are now linked.
You'll need to first enter your password in order to verify your account information.Once you have linked your accounts, switching between them is easy. To do so, click the picture icon in the upper right corner of the window and when the menu appears, you'll see both your accounts, as shown in Figure P. To switch between them, just select the account email address. When you do, the Inbox for the other account will appear on the screen.
To switch between your accounts, just access the menu and select the account you want to use.
What's your take?
Do you have a Hotmail.com/Live.com/MSN.com account? If so will you move it to Outlook.com yourself? Or, will you just wait for Microsoft to move the account for you? If you are planning on moving it yourself, will you be upgrading your account or starting fresh? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.